In a one-sided night of football, Leicester beat Chelsea 2-0 to go to the top of the Premier League.
The Foxes were the better side from start to finish and never really looked like they were going to fail to take this chance to move to the top as a storming strike from Wilfred Ndidi thundered in off the post gave them a lead they never surrendered. Chelsea have now lost 4 of their last 5 away matches. Who were the winners and losers?
Winner: Wesley Fofana
Wesley Fofana joined Leicester this summer for a whopping £36.5m. It was a huge amount to pay for a defender who had played just one season of professional football, especially when Leicester already had Caglar Soyuncu and Jonny Evans holding down the fort.
Then a Soyuncu injury thrust Fofana into the limelight before many would have expected but all it seemed to do was energise the youngster. Fofana has been absolutely fantastic this season and tonight he was absolutely brilliant in shutting down Chelsea’s attack. Fofana managed 3 clearances, was never dribbled passed and pulled off a game-high 8 clearances. Every time the ball was sent into the box Fofana got it the hell outta there with much expediency.
Speaking of the world transfer record for a defender set by Harry Maguire when he moved from Leicester to Manchester United; Jamie Redknapp said of Fofana: “I’ll be amazed if he doesn’t break that record in a couple years.” That is a bold call to make of a 20-year-old centre-back but whenever you watch Fofana play it’s hard to find flaws in it.
Loser: Antonio Rudiger (and Reece James)
When Frank Lampard recalled Antonio Rudiger to the starting XI and dropped Kurt Zouma, he insisted it wasn’t that Zouma had done anything wrong but that Rudiger had proven in training that he deserved a chance. Well in the three games he’s played since he’s returned the Blues kept just one clean sheet (against Fulham).
Kai Havertz has created one chance and attempted one shot in his last six Premier League appearances.
What’s going wrong for Chelsea’s record signing? 😫 pic.twitter.com/XVuoFEqdwC
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 19, 2021
Tonight while Rudiger could have done little about Wilfred Ndidi’s storming opener, the German was hugely at fault for Leicester’s second goal as he let Marc Albrighton’s long hoof into the box bounce behind him and fouled Jamie Vardy instead of heading clear (Reece James also gets some blame here as he had simply stopped running back after James Maddison who did eventually score).
Rudiger showed none of the authority that Kurt Zouma often shows and one gets the feeling that he was dropped for droppings sake, just to make a change after 3 losses in 4 and obviously Thiago Silva is your big money buy he has to play. This means Zouma sits while Rudiger flits about the pitch generally looking pretty useless.
Winner: James Maddison
Mason Mount vs. James Maddison was one of the biggest talking points coming into this game, which English star would dominate? Well, while Mount did put in 100% effort from start to finish and rack up a game-high 10 tackles, Maddison took the headlines and the win.
Playing as a no. 8 in midfield with Youri Tielemans, Maddison played with more verve than usual. He started deep, spreading the ball forward with supreme confidence to supercharge Leicester counter-attacks. And of course he scored the second goal was a lovely forward run and then an incredibly confident finish.
That makes it 3 goals in his last 3 games for Maddison, all of them crucial to the outcome of games. This is the “new” Maddison, not the 100-chances-created set-piece wizard but a more complete and dynamic attacking midfield talent who could go on to true greatness with Leicester, perhaps a more elite club, and surely at some point England?
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Loser: Timo Werner
Another game, another Timo Werner performance where he runs with quickness, moves with intelligence and then finished with all the threat of a soggy digestive biscuit. The German just looks utterly flattened by everything right now, and today seemed especially cruel as he did put the ball in the back of the net only to be ruled out for an offside call of a matter of inches. The resigned look on his face as he left the field was so sad, but for a £50m striker to go 700 minutes in the Premier League without scoring a goal is shameful.
Winner: Brendan Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers may come out with some hysterical comments and for sure his teams have a reputation for fading away at the crunch moments near the end of the season, but there’s no doubting that he is an excellent coach.
Brendan Rodgers has now beaten all 34 teams he has faced as a Premier League manager.
The Chelsea curse has finally been broken. pic.twitter.com/MIgfziLMKa
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 19, 2021
The way Rodgers develops talent is incredible. Leicester’s recruitment is good but the way Rodgers seamlessly melds these new players and youth team players is so impressive. Harvey Barnes, James Justin, James Maddison… all have improved exponentially under Rodgers’ coaching; as did Harry Maguire before Caglar Soyuncu made everyone forget him and Wesley Fofana made everyone forget the Turk.
Basically Everyone is happy and pulling in the right direction and the club backs him enough to provide him with funds to keep on improving his team and keep on winning these big games. Tonight was the first home win over Chelsea since the title-winning season of 2015/16, and while you wouldn’t want to tip Leicester with the race so close; they just went top of the league. Would you bet against them?
Loser: Frank Lampard
Just what the hell is going on with Chelsea? 5 of their last 8 games have ended in defeat. They’re stuck down in 8th place but Southampton and Aston Villa can both go past them should they win their games in-hand. This season Chelsea are a mid-table club and that’s not even a controversial statement.
Frank Lampard has utterly failed to deliver on the promise of last season despite being handed a star-studded squad by Marina Granovskaia. The Blues just don’t create enough, they don’t move the ball through midfield either, and their defenders are too easy to pressurise into mistakes. There’s weaknesses all over the pitch even though the squad is positively oozing with talent. Lampard has got to own that and work to get Chelsea playing to the level they want to be at. Some consistency of team selection might help, or maybe a unifying tactical idea? There just has to be something because right now Lampard can forget about being the new Mourinho he looks like a cheap imitation Ranieri.